IU Self-Reports Minor Recruiting Phone Call Violation by Tom Crean, Staff

Tom Crean - Indiana | Violation for Extra Phone Call(Full Disclosure: My initial post on this subject probably went a little overboard, proving true my original first sentence, which read: “I should probably take a night to sleep on this before declaring my thoughts publicly.” Well, it didn’t even take a night to realize I was slightly overreacting.

This blog clearly needs someone to edit the editor every now and again.

After doing a little more reading of words perhaps more informed and reasonable than my own, I’m not quite as worked up as I was when I originally posted this. I am still disappointed, and I still think there needs to be some public accountability, but I’m not ready to jump off a bridge as it probably seemed when I first posted. So I have edited this post somewhat from its original version. Here ya go.)

According to a report posted Tuesday night at IndyStar.com by Mark Alesia, Indiana University self-reported an impermissible phone call made by assistant coach Roshown McLeon to 2009 IU signee Bawa Muniru. As a self-imposed punishment, Tom Crean and his assistants did not make any phone calls for a week in December. Here is an excerpt from the rather brief story by Alesia:

According to the report, when assistant coach Roshown McLeod left a voice mail for Muniru on Oct. 25, it was the school’s third call to him in a week — exceeding the NCAA limit by one.

Coach Tom Crean, who normally makes one call per week to recruits, placed two to Muniru — the Sunday and Wednesday before McLeod’s call on a Saturday.

The report said Crean “simply made a mistake,” thinking his Sunday call had counted against the previous week’s allotment. The athletic department’s compliance department discovered the violation.

There is no confirmation of when the compliance department discovered the illegal call. My assumption would be that it was in December during a routine check of the phone records and that the penalty was imposed immediately. Regardless, there are a couple of key questions that come to mind for me immediately:

  1. If the impermissible call was, in fact, found out about in December, it would have to have been at least five weeks after the call was made. Considering the catastrophic effects of illegal calls under the previous coach, why would Coach Crean and the compliance department not be doing constant audits of the phone records to ensure compliance?
  2. If the basketball program is conducting real-time audits of the phone records, and the impermissible call was caught immediately after it happened, then why did the self-imposed ban wait until December? Conveniently that would have pushed it to after the November signing period.

(Update: New post over at the Hoosier Report appears to clear these questions up some. The post provides a link to the self-report form. Seems like the Hoosier Report actually engaged in legit journalism, unlike me who just flew off the handle and published statements I later had to tone down. Here are the basics, according to the Hoosier Report:

“The report indicates that on October 25, Roshown McLeod made what was the third call of the week to Bawa Muniru. Tom Crean had made a call on that Sunday, and again on Wednedsay. Because of IU’s practice schedule, he thought the Sunday call had been made the previous day. IU found the violation on November 21, reported it on December 10, and imposed a sanction of no calls for a week in December. It sounds as if the staff has a good system for preventing these sorts of issues–the head coach and the responsible assistant each make no more than one call a week to a recruit–but it failed in this instance because of a misrecollection by Crean as to the date of the first call. McLeod made what he thought was his one call of the week, but he didn’t have it. Expect howling from the usual quarters, but I don ‘t think this is a major concern, just a major annoyance.”

Either way, I find it difficult to look the other way or play the “it’s only one call” card after what we went through almost exactly a year ago. An impermissible phone call? Seriously? For obvious reasons, of all the minor/secondary violations that could occur, this one is truly the most major of annoyances — at a minimum.

I know that it sounds worse that it probably is in reality, but “honest” mistake or not, I still think it’s unacceptable and I don’t understand why we are only hearing about this now.

The illegal phone call reportedly took place on October 25th and the program served its self-imposed suspension in December. It’s now February 24th, and according to the report by Alesia they obtained the report through a public records request. I would expect Tom Crean to explain this with full disclosure the Indiana Self-Reports Extra Phone Call By Basketball Program, Tom Creanmoment he found out that an error had taken place. And to all those who say that these types of violations happen all the time, I say fine; but how often do they happen the year after a school sees its entire program crumble because of the same violation (albeit in a much higher quanity)?

That’s why I think there is ample reason to warrant an explanation from Crean.

Based on the circumstantial evidence, it sounds to me like Coach Crean and the basketball program hoped this would stay under the radar. I have read many message board posts tonight that suggest exactly what the IndyStar article says: that college basketball programs report minor recruiting violations all the time. Perhaps this is so, and I’m a little out of touch. Still, I just think that considering the circumstances, Crean and IU should been out in front of this one, even if they thought it would stay quiet.

I’m glad I decided to stay up and edit this because my original post does seem a little unreasonable now that I’ve gotten over the shock of seeing “Indiana”, “Tom Crean”, and “recruiting violations involving phone calls” in the same story. I am just quite passionate about the integrity of Indiana basketball and the continued rebuilding of the reputation and commitment to rules and ethics that defined IU athletics under Bob Knight and Bill Mallory while I was growing up. In fact, I care about that much more than winning, and I believe that we must repair our basketball program’s broken code of ethics before we can even think of rebuilding the proud tradition of excellence on the floor.

I have been firmly in Tom Crean’s corner every second of his tenure so far. I have kept my expectations in check for wins and losses this year, and have been vocal in staying positive and upbeat during the least successful on-court season in the history of the program.

But I will not keep my expectations in check for integrity.

IU fans and non-IU fans can rationalize this “just one call” any way they like and say it’s not a big deal. And in the grand scheme of things, maybe it’s not. Shoot, for all I know little slip-ups like this may very well have occurred under Coach Knight. As the IndyStar article says, “schools routinely turn themselves in for minor violations of the NCAA’s complicated rules.”

Well guess what? Most schools in most seasons are not struggling to tread water in the wake of a horrific ethics scandal that rocked the foundation of their once proud and integrity-filled program; but that is where Indiana’s basketball program currently finds itself. And it means there is a different level of accountability, in my opinion.

The combination of time, location, and circumstance implore an unyielding and impermeable commitment to airtight intregity. Based on this report, a violation slipped through. I don’t think anything happened that is egregious or that Tom Crean should be tarred and feathered for; and, as some over at Peegs have suggested tonight, Crean and IU perhaps should even be getting some amount of credit for reporting the violation in the first place.

Under normal circumstances this would not really be a huge deal to me considering the realities of college basketball recruiting, but I still think that given the circumstances of the last year, even a violation this “minor” should have been followed by explanation and full disclosure at the time. I am probably in the minority in thinking this, but so be it.

What do you think?

Is the report that Tom Crean and his staff made an extra phone call a big deal?

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Luckily I didn’t fall asleep before I could edit what was probably not a very well thought out post originally. I’m still disappointed that even a minor violation had to be reported, and I believe that Tom Crean should address this soon — hopefully after an IU win over Northwestern tonight. More than anything, I think I’m just still pissed at the ass clown who was coaching here before, the one who created the mess that made me cry wolf as my first instinct upon reading the IndyStar story tonight.

My main source of excitement all year long has been the promise of moving forward and closing the door on the immediate past. What I read tonight immediately swung that door back open and brought everything from last year right back to the forefront of my mind. Hopefully with time that knee jerk reaction will subside.

All I want is to believe beyond any doubt that IU is back to playing completely by the rules and taking steps each day towards banner #6. For a moment tonight that belief was shaken, for what I really hope is the last time.

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. You’re not actually dumb enough to believe that IU would never have another minor infraction, right? Schools report these types of infractions every year. It happens every year, everywhere. It happened when Knight was here. The key is to not let major violations come into play, and create a corrupt culture, which is what happened with KS.

    • @Jimmy,

      I don’t think I’m dumb enough, considering I basically acknowledged your very point:

      “IU fans and non-IU fans can rationalize this “just one call” any way they like and say it’s not a big deal. Shoot, for all I know a little slip-up like this may very well have occurred under Coach Knight. As the IndyStar article says, “schools routinely turn themselves in for minor violations of the NCAA’s complicated rules.” Well guess what? Most schools in most seasons are not struggling to tread water in the wake of a horrific ethics scandal that rocked the foundation of their once proud and integrity-filled program; but that is where Indiana’s basketball program currently finds itself.

      The combination of time, location, and circumstance implore an unyielding and impermeable commitment to airtight intregity. Based on this report, a violation slipped through.”

      I don’t doubt that this kind of stuff happens all the time at lots of schools, probably on a regular basis. But if there was one school where it shouldn’t have even come close to happening, it is IU…and especially this season. Maybe I’m being too strong and too harsh and expecting the impossible, but I expected the controls in place to be so stringent that nothing close to a violation could happen.

      I’m not really as upset about the violation as I am about the fact that it’s just coming out now. I just wish Crean had said, “Look, this happened but it should not have. It was an honest mistake and we are self-reporting it and will self-impose a penalty. But I am accountable to the IU program and its fans, and this was my fault. But we’re on top of it and always looking for ways to ensure that our compliance is as airtight as possible.”

      Or something like that. Part of the culture the jackass who coached last year created was of looking the other way, denying, and lying. I think Tom Crean and the basketball program need to go to extra lengths to ensure any remnants of that culture has been eradicated. I’m sorry, but rationalizing a violation, no matter how minor, and not requesting public accountability by our coach, is not my idea of ensuring that IU basketball is on the right path for the future.

      But thank you for your comment and perspective…it is always much appreciated. And like I said, maybe I’ll feel differently after a night to sleep on it. Maybe the shock of “IU”, “Tom Crean”, and “extra phone calls” in the same sentence was just too much handle with last year still so fresh in the mind.

      I’m still fully behind TC…I just want to make sure that we are overly cautious to create a culture as defined by integrity and ethics as is possible in the corrupt world of college basketball.

  2. Thanks for a well written response, and I probably shouldn’t have used the word dumb. Sorry for that. But yes, I think you’re expecting the impossible. Its not like the NCAA will care (Kansas recently reported a minor violation and they are still on probation…and no one cared), and I have a hard time getting upset over stuff like this, because like I said, it happens. Its wasn’t intentional, and it wasn’t hundreds of calls. We can be a clean program and still report stuff like this. All that will come of this is Purdue fans demanding that we get the death penalty, despite the fact that, like everyone else, report minor violations.

    • @Jimmy,

      You make some really good points, and I realized I probably allowed my visceral reaction to write the original post as opposed to a rational head. I knew I should have waited until the morning!

      I still think that this is something TC should address, and that they should have addressed at the time, just because of how sensitive the subject is and how close we still are to the mess from last year. It would have been a great opportunity to show how committed TC and the university are to doing things the right way.

      Still, I can’t publicly chastise TC too much when the one I’m really pissed off at is the lying snake now in Milwaukee who created this mess in the fist place.

  3. J-rod,

    As your friend, I respect your opinion over most writers in sports because I know your intentions are always the best and I don’t think you are writing things just to “sell papers” if you will.


    I really have to disagree with you on this issue. First to be clear, I don’t think you or I would ever give a honeymoon period when it comes to doing the right thing. Now to the point, it seems like you are upset at the process, but I think you are off base. This isn’t a issue and that’s why TC hasn’t addressed it. You agree that it was an honest mistake, so I don’t really know what you expect, by Crean addressing the situation, all it does is point to the fact that it is an issue, when it’s so clearly not.

    Let’s add a little perspective here, say IU is looking at 100 kids over the next 4 years, thats 200 calls a week, all of these calls can be made any of the coaches. That’s a lot of things to keep track of, even the most strict system has the possibility of producing a single error. In the business world they came up with a term, Six Sigma, to help minimize errors, as you know there isn’t a way to have 100% quality.

    Please, you went to the university, you understand the bureaucratic tape that is involved with something as small as reserving a class room. It all has to fit in the system and go through the proper channels. I think that questioning the timing of the release is premature and fails to understand the NCAA system, I think it would be improper to comment on the issue before filing the report as the NCAA might view that as an issue.

    Also, maybe balance the story with some of his successes in the class room. Jobe got 100% in a class, did you ever do that? I didn’t, and I was born in this country. Coach Crean is doing a great job, give the man a break until he does something worthy of a piece, this certainly is not.

    • @Frank,

      Good points my friend. Not sure if you read the original article or the edited version (should have held off on hitting “publish” until I was thinking rationally) but I’ve cooled down considerably.

      I still think that just because of how close we are to the debacle of last season, and because it was a phone call violation specifically, that they should have stayed out in front of this one. At the very least, say something in December when the one week penalty is being served.

      I agree with you that no system will prevent errors 100% of the time, and that Tom Crean is doing a great job. As I said before, I probably had some leftover venom and anger for the jerk who coached us previously and it spilled out in an irrational way.

      As you always do, thank for keeping me straight when I get a little too excited and forget to think first, talk second.

  4. From the outside, I agree that you would think that IU and Coach Crean would be doing all in their power to follow every rule the NCAA has out there. I don’t any of us really realize how hard it really is to totally follow every rule. The NCAA rule book is something like 1,000 pages and covers hundreds of topics and situations. It has been said before that a document with all of the things you CAN do might actually be shorter than the current book of things you CAN’T do. While it is unrealistic to expect any program to never make a mistake, there is a huge difference between MAJOR and MINOR violations. One phone call is not equal to 500 phone calls or paying recruits…unfortunate that the coaches didn’t communicate? yes…but I am sure that changes have been made to ensure it does not happen again (something that clearly didn’t happen with Sampson).

  5. This is absolutley unacceptable. IU is the only school in the entire world that should not be in this violation. Sampson embarassed the uninvesity with these same antics 1 year ago. Coach Crean must understand the true reason why he has the IU job. That being the last guy was making too many phone calls. Like the rule or not…it is still a rule. It is a rule that IU should know better than anyone else. This is simply unbelievable to me.

    • @Pat, that was my my first impression upon hearing the news too. It sounds like IU did everything to immediately remedy the situation, and at least they caught it quickly. Something tells me this probably scared the bejesus out of everyone in the athletic department, and I think we can certainly expect not to hear any other stories about even one phone call that violates any rule, no matter how small.

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  1. […] should really be asleep right now, but I just checked my e-mail on my phone quick and Jerod over at Midwest Sports Fan dropped this in my inbox: the Indy Star is reporting the basketball staff made one phone call too […]

  2. […] Indiana basketball has another recruiting violation?  One IU fan is pissed.  I agree with him and I am so sick of IU apologists (that’s you Judd).  All I heard about from IU fans last year was “it was just a text message”, or “it was just a phone call”.  At some point someone needs to start taking responsibility for breaking the rules. [Midwest Sports] […]

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